. . . Jesus spoke and said, "I praise thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and prudent, and didst reveal them to little ones."
On May 13, 1917, three peasant children began having visions of a beautiful woman dressed in white, shining brighter than the sun. During this first visit, the Lady asked the children if they were willing to offer themselves to God and to bear much suffering for the reparation of sins and the conversion of sinners. The children agreed.
In subsequent visits, always on the 13th of the month, the Lady divulged three secrets (one of which predicted a 2nd World War if the world failed to turn from sin), revealed a vision of hell, established the First Saturday devotion, encouraged prayer of the Rosary for the end of the 1st World War, and identified herself as the Lady of the Rosary. Most remarkably, during the last visit, 70,000 people witnessed an incredible miracle in which the sun appeared to spin and zig-zag in the sky. This Miracle of the Sun was reported even in secular newspapers.
The children suffered much humiliation and ridicule, even by their own family members. They became oddities and were harassed endlessly. Their families also suffered, as the growing crowds of pilgrims trampled down their fields and left their land in waste. Yet, the children never wavered in their devotion to the Lady. Today, 75 years later, the Shrine to Our Lady of Fatima is one of the largest in the world, with more than 4 million pilgrims visiting the site of the visions every year.
The 13th Day, based on the memoirs of Sister Maria Lucia, is a wonderful family film directed by brothers, Ian and Dominic Higgins. The acting is first rate, the three children are absolutely beautiful and wonderfully cast, and having been shot on location, the setting is lovely and pastoral. Unfortunately, the visual effects, while interesting, were a bit heavy handed and at times detracted from the message of the film. The Higgins brothers seem to have been to the Baz Luhrmann school of cinematography (don't get me wrong, I love me some Baz, but only in small doses) The best use of artistry was the filming in black and white and the conscious use of color solely in scenes of the supernatural, both heavenly and netherworldly.
Visual criticism aside, I really loved this movie and I highly recommend it. Due to some frightening imagery (visions of Hell, a demonic image, a frightening scene in a prison, and the assassination of the Pope), I would hesitate to allow young children watch this film, but it would be appropriate for children 10 years and up.
Read more information on Our Lady of Fatima here.
Learn more about the film here.